Pasifka Futures Whānau Ora Conference

Health

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E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā tangata katoa, o moana-nui-a-kiwa,

E ngā mate, haere, haere, haere atū ra, manuia lau Malaga.

Thank you for the kind introduction and opportunity to join you this morning.

It is always good to be here in Aukilani, where I born and raised.

It’s also special that I can be, as one of the mamas from Siaola told me very boldy in my second day of my Ministerial warrant, to be in the heart of the Pacific, here in Auckland. Where we’re kicking off talanoa that celebrates, reflects, and shares insights into what we have learned from serving our Pacific families and communities.

I would like to start by thanking Pasifika Futures Limited, Chair of the Board Dr Kiki Moate, Board members, Chief Executive Debbie Sorrenson and their team for bringing us all together today.

I would also like to mention and acknowledge the families in the room who work with our providers and Pasifika Futures.

My hope is that your insights and contributions will help us focus and strengthen the impact that we’re making.

There will always be areas where we can do better and with your help, we will.

When I was reflecting on your conference’s theme, I was struck by how far we’ve come over in our own journeys recently and how relevant your theme is for this year.

Navigation is inherently woven into who we are as Pacific people.

Our ancestors learned to navigate using the stars and currents to discover new lands long before we were here, and as Pacific people we often navigate two worlds in so many facets of our everyday life.

For myself, “navigating new waters” has felt like second nature recently, with today marking 50 days in my role as a Minister. 

I know it’s a sentiment shared by our new Ministry for Pacific Peoples Chief Executive, Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone as we had the pleasure of starting our new pathways on the same day.

While I was being sworn in, she was being welcomed in.

More and more are we seeing the next generation of female Pacific leaders coming through, and it is vital that we remember who’s footsteps we are walking in.

It’s the likes of our very own Debbie Sorensen, our inaugural Whānau Ora Minister Tariana Turia, Dr Teuila Percival, Dr Melani Anae, the Honourable Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, Aiga Caroline Mareko, Judge Ida Malosi, the fierce Georgina Beyer, so many strong and inspiration leaders. Our own mothers, sisters and aunties. 

I honour you all today.

In looking forward to the future we must never lose sight of where we have come from.

The challenges that we’ve faced and continue to face are immense. From the response by many of you in the room to COVID, Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano, the floods here in Auckland and now Cyclone Gabrielle.

I want to take a moment to acknowledge those of you who may come from affected areas or have friends and family impacted.

For some of you there is still a long road ahead towards recovery but we are committed to ensuring that communities are supported to build back better and stronger.

I was able to observe the work of Tofilau Talalelei Taufale and his team, our Pacific Churches on the ground and Pasifika Futures PACMAT team, during one of my visits to Hawke’s Bay.

To those of you who have been involved in all these responses – thank you.

As your Associate Minister of Health, I also want to the thank the Pacific providers I see in the room today, who straddle the health, wellbeing and social sectors and provide holistic services at the front line, every single day.

As Pacific peoples, we’re always taught to acknowledge where we come from and let that guide where we’re going.

Tomorrow, you’ll hear from Minister Henare who will touch on the future of Whānau Ora so I thought it was appropriate for me to reflect briefly on our past.

Since 2014, we’ve been fortunate enough to have our own  Pacific whanau ora commissioning agency, across every region to develop an outcomes framework that is defined and designed by families.

As Whānau Ora’s national Pacific commissioning agency, Pasifika Futures plays a vital role in connecting families to their aspirations, providing the tools and resources to achieve them.

Whānau Ora commissioning has been using outcome-based contracting for some time, this is one example where we can take learnings from this approach through into the health reforms to enable improvements to how we support families with their well-being goals.

For example, the Fono and Langimalie (the Tongan Health Society) are part of a pilot group working with Te Whatu Ora to integrate multiple funding lines and develop first generation outcome contracts and I look forward to seeing the outcomes of this later in the year.

We know that Pasifika Futures is a leader in the outcomes-based contracting, having engaged with over 367,000 Pacific people or 96% of the Pacific population in New Zealand, from Kaitaia to Invercargill.

That demonstrates two things to me:

One. That the work of Pasifika Futures and its partner providers, and the network of Whānau Ora Navigators have made a significant contribution to supporting and improving the wellbeing of our Pacific families. 

I saw that first hand during COVID when I was part of the Pacific Volunteer Army (the VA). Lead by Whanau Manaaki, and supported by Pasifika Futures, Te Whatu Ora, and MSD, I was part of the growing number of volunteers who delivered food packs and RATs throughout the Wellington region, and we held huge vaccination festivals which saw Porirua have the highest rate of Pacific vaccinations in the country.

And two. It also illustrates that there is a sustained need within our communities and we must keep working collectively to provide appropriate support.

Despite the devastating impact of the pandemic and the weather events, one silver lining is the timing of this conference.

Over the next two days you have a wonderful opportunity to contribute, provide valuable insight and engage in discussion that can shape a future in which we can build on response successes and collaboratively design solutions to challenges.

We know that strong and trusted relationships are a fundamental element to successfully making change for families and the Pasifika Futures - Whānau Ora approach has been a leader in this space for almost a decade.

If I can conclude by going back to the beginning.

In 2012, Dame Tariana Turia said in response to the criticism of Whanau Ora in Parliament:

"Whanau Ora “is high-risk business with a potential for high return. There is no quick-fix solution to achieve the well-being of families, but we have to invest time, energy, and resources in family to be self-managing.”

Pasifika Futures has proven and shown that it is no longer a “high-risk business” and that wellbeing outcomes are possible when you invest time, energy and resources in our families.

As Pacific peoples – we are stronger together, and I hope that over today and tomorrow you can connect with one another, draw strength and inspiration from your shared experiences, stories and challenges,

All for the benefit of our Pasifika families and our children.

Once again, I want to thank you for the opportunity to be part of this journey and for your service to our communities.

Fa’afetai tele lava.